MID-AIR COLLISION AT CU NIM GLIDING CLUB
Adam Leinweber was 18 years old when he and his 68 year old instructor, Allan Wood, were killed in a glider-aircraft that was struck by a tow plane on July 26, 2019 at the Cu Nim Gliding Club in Black Diamond, Alberta.
Before takeoff, Wood stated that this was an “instructional flight,” and that he was going to be “flying the circuit.” Once airborne, instructor Wood radioed the tow pilot, requesting “banking turns,” an advanced exercise that should have been briefed between the instructor and the tow pilot in advance.
The glider released in an unusual position (to the left of the tow plane). Wood radioed the tow pilot to thank him for the tow but neglected to mention their position, placing the two aircraft on a collision course.
Unable to observe the glider and knowing his aircraft collision avoidance system (PowerFLARM) was malfunctioning, the tow pilot made no attempt to radio to determine the glider’s location, and instead, made a left turn, colliding with the tail of Adam and Allan’s glider.
Both Cu Nim Gliding Club aircraft were equipped with PowerFLARMs.
The FLARM on the tow plane had been malfunctioning since March 22, 2019. The tow pilot was negligent in maintaining his FLARM and did not record problems with the device in the appropriate logs. Had his FLARM been operable, he would have been alerted to the glider’s unusual position, and the collision and subsequent loss of life avoided.
Instructor Allan Wood was described by Cu Nim Gliding Club as an experienced and cautious pilot who introduced many safety protocols during his time with them.
The tow pilot was recognized by Cu Nim Gliding Club as “Top Tow Pilot of the Year” in December 2019. The decisions made by Allan Wood and the tow pilot leading to the collision cannot be explained.